Hunterstown Rovers confirmed their place in the Division 2 promotion playoffs on Saturday with a bumper 3-19 to 1-11 over Glen Emmets at Pairc Baile Fiach, a win which seals second place in the league for Rovers.
At the end of a stellar league campaign in which they won eight and drew one of their 11 matches, Jim Mathews’ side finished with a flourish – enjoying their highest scoring outing of the year as they bounced back from a disappointing defeat away to St Brides last Sunday. Alan Landy hit 2-04 and Glen Mathews 0-06 as Hunterstown looked comfortable from start to finish.
They will now face third placed Naomh Fionnbarra in the play-off semi final. Despite captain David Finn missing out, Tony McKenna returned to the fold after missing the defeat to St Brides six days previously. Paul Carrie togged out but wasn’t risked as he eases his way back into first team contention.
Early points from Keith Brennan and Alan Landy were cancelled out by James Butler and Ronan Grufferty and several Rovers efforts fell short early on before they found their range. Glen Mathews got his first of six and Ryan Ward pointed before the net bulged for the first time in the windy early evening.
Hunterstown moved the ball well from back to front before Landy found Brennan who fired in a shot across goalkeeer Fergus Barnett. Brendan Lennon added a point seconds later before he got in space and sent a ball in on top of Barnett where Landy pounced to help the ball over the keeper and under the bar.
It was 2-06 to 0-01 when Mathews hit a free. Landy had the chance to stretch his legs and split the posts either side two scores from Grufferty. An expert striker of the ball, Rovers soon knew they had to ensure got to allow him space within range. A close range free followed a sighter from distance.
Glen Mathews added four more points – three from play – in the final ten minutes of the first half while Lennon got his second and McKenna flighted over a curler, arguably the game’s very best point. Grufferty and Butler responded to leave it 2-13 to 0-06.
Almost inevitably, the second half was a tighter affair but rarely did the Emmets look like reducing the sizeable deficit beyond an insurmountable 10 points. Richard Cunningham made some timely interventions when needed and Brian Mathews showed his willingness to get forward when he could. Richie Taaffe impressed playing inside, at centre half back.
Landy notched the home side’s first two points of the half before he got his second goal of the game. A poor kickout from replacement netminder Shane Owens allowed Brennan the opportunity to feed Landy and he cooly slotted in to add to his fruitful tally for the evening.
Lennon and Brennan added more points but not after the Tullyallen outfit got their goal. Keanen Johnston’s effort looped over a stranded Niall Carrie and in. Even with 25 minutes to play, even the most cock-eyed optimist would struggle to see that as any more as a consolation.
Butler impressed for the visitors and Grufferty was a strong running presence going forward. Paul Taaffe had to be on hand to make a crucial block as Glen Emmets came close to another goal with just over 10 minutes remaining. They could have had another after an error in the Rovers backlin near the end, but with the gaping, the chance was missed.
Points from Glen Mathews and Niall Taafee sealed the win, their safe passage and the extension of Hunterstown’s competitive season into the Autumn. The other semi-final will be played between Newtown Blues and St Josephs. Rovers will have home advantage against the Finbarrs.
HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS: Niall Carrie, Richard Cunningham, Paul Taaffe, Brian Mathews, Patrick Taaffe, Richie Taaffe, Martin Lennon, Tony McKenna (0-01), Ryan Ward (0-01), Paddy Mooney, Brendan Lennon (0-03), Eddie Burke, Alan Landy (2-04), Keith Brennan (1-02), Glen Mathews (0-07).
SUBS: Niall Taaffe (0-01) for Eddie Burke, ?? for Richard Cunningham, McQuillan for Keith Brennan, Barry Weldon for Brian Mathews
GLEN EMMETS: Fergus Barnett, Niall Hackett, Danny Whyte, Joe Farrelly, Shane Noone, Tom Grimes, Keanan Johnston (1-01), Mark Garvey, Robert Byrne (0-01), Brendan Monahan, David Bracken, James Butler (0-03), Ronan Grufferty (0-05), Damien Grimes, Alan McGrane
Subs: Shane Owens for Fergus Barnett, Keith Lynch (0-01) for David Bracken, Mark Noone for Tom Grimes.